Well, hellooo and welcome to The Most Listiest Time of The Year!
Like everything in comedy, this list is 100% real and 100% bullshit. Lists are stupid. Somehow they manage to be both arbitrary and completely biased ("Shit, we have to throw a year end list of comedians together... does anyone here know anything about comedy? No? Could you ask that TV development assistant friend of yours to throw out some names? And what about that improv guy you used to date, he probably knows a couple people who are really 'alt'."). So a few years ago I decided to embrace that stupidity whole hog and create a flagrantly biased Crush List that also just happened to be some of the funniest up-and-comers in LA. You can’t get mad at a list for being based on ridiculous whims if the list is upfront about it, can you?
Turns out you can be. More than a few Jezebel Jihadi Janes have expressed anger at the fact that the list is 100% boys. Duh. It would kind of ruin the whole bit if I went ahead and brought any kind of fairness into it. But then again, who hasn’t developed a girl crush or two in their life, so why not add some double-X chromosome types I get a little giddy for? And if I’m going to start including women, I might as well consign them to a Girl Ghetto like every other gatekeeper dum dum. So here, for the first time ever Crush List 2016: Girls to Go Gay For.
Sarah Tiana - My very comedy first girl crush. I fell in love with Sarah when she was bringing her Georgia Peach attitude to the normally dark, dirty and testosterone-filled late nights at The Comedy Store. She was the first female comedian I got to see who was an evolution on the Handler-Silverman-Cummings-Schumer “Hey, chicks can talk about sex too!” movement. Sure, she talks about sex and relationships (because duh, that’s what 90% of art since the history of time is about), but that wasn’t her focus or stage identity. She was more apt to touch on the human side of it - like loneliness or the rush to label a woman crazy - than the explicit details. And while she can be self-deprecating, she never truly puts herself down. I’m not knocking the Whitneys of the world - someone had to burn their bra before we could discuss whether spanx are an evil tool of the patriarchy designed to keep us down - but it was refreshing to see that that wasn’t the only mold a young comedian had to pour herself into to do this. (I’m sure in another fifteen years or so, Hollywood will figure that out, too)
Jessica Kirson - Holy Mary and Jesus in a handbag! What a fucking hurricane of awesomeness! What Jessica does is so unique and sooooooo enjoyable to experience live, I almost don’t even want to try and describe it. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Jessica live, you can get a little taste of what’s up by following her daily video posts on Facebook. They show a nice peek into her fiercely hilarious tone. And sometimes you’ll catch glimpses of her structure that impressively manages to be meta while still being actually funny and avoiding becoming a smug critique of comedy. She’s on the “Run into the room every time she’s on” category for me and should be for everyone else.
Megan Gailey - It feels like Megan Gailey is finally starting to get the kind of industry attention that she deserves after a phenomenal debut on Conan, so definitely keep your eye out for her in 2016. Thankfully, her quick wit and sarcastic outlook saved her from becoming a chardonnay swilling midwest elite and gave us all the opportunity to enjoy that wonderful mix of almost charmingly sweet candy coating over a deliciously bitter core.
Beth Stelling - I guess I have a thing for kind of mean midwesterners who are pretty. But if comedy rescued Megan from a life of PTA boards and luncheons, it saved Beth from a life of minimum wage jobs and sweatpants, apparently. Beth’s not mean in the sense of being cruel or anything, she’s just so incisive with her observations it pierces through Polite and Nice and goes right to Hilarious. She’s done the rounds of all the late night shows (though my favorite is still the now defunct Pete Holmes Show) and Comedy Central released her album and Half Hour this year and she regularly tours the country with folks like Anthony Jeselnik and now headlining, herself.
Candice Thompson - Hooooo, Candice is the tits! Kind of like if you poured a stereotypical big older sassy black lady into a hot young body, but then there wasn’t room for the stereotypical part. So fucking smart and sharp, it’s a crime she isn’t on every TV and in every club across America already. Her sketch series with Brenda Colonna, Creepy Caress, does a great job of showing off the pair’s smart, sharp and dark sense of humor. Hopefully her appearances on E!’s The Comments Section are just the first of many to come.
Michelle Wolf - God, what a writer! You might have caught her a few times as Grown Up Annie on Late Night with Seth Meyers, but you get to enjoy her incredible writing every single show. And that’s not a backhanded compliment about her stage presence. Michelle murders. It’s like she’s entreating you to just open your eyes and turn on your brain to see the bullshit that’ all around you, but instead you can just sit back and laugh because she already did it for you.
Liza Treyger - “Hot mess” is often used derogatorily, but I mean it as the utmost compliment to Liza. She’s unapologetically, unabashedly gonna tell you about dry spells, dick sucking and hard partying, all while slipping in some secretly deep and incisive commentary on gender and socioeconomics. She’s also just a fucking blast onstage, it’s like spending 15 minutes with the funnest, craziest person at the party right before they go puke in a potted plant in the corner. She’s already had her Comedy Central Half Hour and has been a featured player on numerous MTV shows, so hopefully it’s just a (short) matter of time before we see her at the helm of s sitcom or late night show.
Blair Socci - OMG I LOOOOOOOVVVE Blair! She’s a linebacker in the body of a SoCal blondie, vocal fry and all. Her very un-ladylike stage persona can take a lot of people off guard, but is such a tremendously fun ride once you jump on board. Blair covers standard themes like dating and her family, but it’s her perspective that makes it fascinating. Sort of like an experimental indie band doing their take on a classic rock ballad - it’s familiar enough yet completely different. She just landed on MTV’s Ladylike (ironic) so everyone’s gonna get to know Blair this year.
Marina Franklin - You might have caught glimpses of Marina in The Jim Gaffian Show, Trainwreck, and Inside Amy Schumer, but that is not nearly enough Marina to get a sense of how wonderful she is. Though she has the face of a newbie, she’s got the chops of a vet. She’s got a non-nonsense, cool older cousin persona and a set that is so technically proficient it’s ridiculous. Um, yeah, I don’t know what else to say after that, besides Marina is awesome. I mean, seriously, watch this Conan set. Fucking perfect.
Bridget Everett - Technically speaking, Bridget is not a stand-up comedian and technically speaking she is classified as the most awful of all non-improv styles of comedy, the musical comedian. But Bridget Everett is so much more than some hack relying on chords instead of words to get laughs. She is a complete experience, a true Entertainer, and probably most accurately described as “alt cabaret” She’s amazing and it’s impossible not to fall in love with her in the first 10 minutes. Seriously, go check out her regular show at Joe’s Pub and see if you can resist!
Casey Balsham - Speaking of arbitrary and biased, Casey is my current roommate and longtime “Best Worst Influence” She’s also incredibly funny. She’s a goofy, high energy ton of fun with a great mix of structure, absurdity, gonzo physicality and warmth that’s like a bandwagon you absolutely wanna hop on. She was recently featured on Tidal’s No Small Talk, was a standout at the Big Sky Comedy Festival and hopefully will stop being such an OCD perfectionist and release the podcast and web series she’s been working on this year into the wild very soon.
Yamaneika Saunders - Yam was the brightest bright spot on Oxygen’s Funny Girls (which you should know carries extra weight since I’m quite fond of Nicole and Steph from way back) and is now a much loved contributor to Meredith, so I’ve kinda missed the boat on her being the Next Big Thing since she’s already kind of a Big Deal. But fuck it, it’s my list and I’ve loved Yam ever since I just happened to be at the bar at Stand Up NY with her, watching her watch her own overly-excited bosoms on last season’s Last Comic Standing. Her commentary at herself was so hilarious, I couldn’t wait to see her on stage and if it’s possible, she’s even funnier there. Yamaneika's sets paint the picture of a storyteller without all those extra words, and they are brutally funny.
Bonnie McFarlane - Every female comic’s girl crush, Bonnie’s kind of too big a deal to be on this list, but it would feel remiss without her. I don’t even know what to write, since you never really have to explain Bonnie to anyone, you just go “Oh my god, Bonnie!” and they go “Holy shit, I know!” and then you both swoon.
Leslie Jones - Leslie gets an honorary mention on this list because I try not to include people who are already big. And boy is Leslie HUGE. Probably the best diversity hire any business has ever made, everyone’s probably already forgotten Leslie came in as a writer after that whole “The only black woman you have is Kennan in a dress” debacle. But her appearances on the Weekend Update desk were unforgettable both because they were incredibly hilarious and because of the blogosphere backlash they created. And that bumped her up to part of the regular cast, where she’s a consistent stand-out. Nevermind that Leslie is one of the new Ghostbusters. What’s nice about Leslie’s fame is that’s Leslie. The Leslie Jones you see on the desk and in those sketches is completely in keeping with the Leslie Jones who grinded her way through the New York comedy scene before moving to LA and becoming a prime time, never-miss staple at The Comedy Store.
If you've read all the way this far, it's probably because you're a comedian looking for your own name ha ha ha, but seriously, probably, right? Obviously there's two dozen other amazingly funny women I can think of off the top of my head (and hundreds more I could list given a few minutes) but you gotta stop somewhere...Please include cute picture of puppies with your hate mail. Or if you're a booker who stumbled onto this because you've "run out of women" please feel free to contact me for suggestions or just ask like any comedian besides the three dudes you always hang out with right after you get your head out of your ass.